‘I do get truculent sometimes. As you know.’ So wrote the American novelist William Gaddis (1922–98) to his mother in 1950, before anybody, except perhaps Gaddis himself, suspected him of greatness. The Letters of William Gaddis, edited by prominent Gaddis scholar Steven Moore, might easily have been called Truculent Sometimes. A big book, as befits Gaddis, it contains plenty of his exquisite complaining. The language is boisterous yet precise, sometimes pained, sometimes brutal, sometimes tender – but, regardless of mood, very funny.
The Letters of William Gaddis
edited by Steven Moore
Dalkey Archive Press (Wiley), $42.95 hb, 545 pp, 9781564788047
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Patrick Allington was the recipient of the inaugural ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth $5000. His novel, Figurehead (Black Inc. 2009), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His short fiction and book criticism appears in Australian newspapers, magazines, and journals, including regularly in ABR.
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